Stericycle, Inc. v. Sonja Patterson

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

Shelby County | 161 So. 3d 1170 | July 12, 2013

Permanent Partial Disability Affirmed Despite Lack of Medical Provider Testimony at Trial

Sonja Patterson was an employee of Stericycle, a company that manages, collects, and removes medical waste. On January 19, 2011, Patterson incurred a back injury while performing her duties. She sought medical attention and was diagnosed with a lumbar strain. Despite her reporting consistent pain, medical professionals suggested inconsistency in her symptoms and attributed her sustained pain to "symptom magnification."

Patterson filed a complaint seeking benefits for a permanent total disability. Only Patterson and her supervisor testified in the ensuing trial, and no healthcare provider testified. The trial court determined that she suffered from a 57% permanent partial disability and was eligible for benefits under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act.

Stericycle appealed the decision, arguing that the court's decision was not substantiated by enough evidence. The Court of Civil Appeals found substantial evidence supporting the trial court's ruling and upheld the initial judgment.

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